Daytime – Land being cleared at East Lyme site approved for affordable housing
East Lyme – The land is being cleared on a plot approved for an 80 affordable housing development on the western outskirts of the city, but without a permit or construction schedule.
In December, the Zoning Commission unanimously granted final site plan approval to local developer Jason Pazzaglia for his Brookside Apartments project on North Bride Brook Road. The development is based on a smaller footprint than the previous 108-unit plan that was rejected by the Inland Wetland Agency last year. Pazzaglia is appealing this decision to the New London Superior Court.
He said in an email on Friday that he was clearing the land only for wood and firewood and did not yet have a timeline in place for the project.
Zoning official Bill Mulholland said on Friday that Pazzaglia had to apply for a zoning permit in order to work on the site. “Once he has that he is allowed to come in and start cutting, cleaning, moving his equipment.”
Evidence of the site clean-up has been visible for at least two weeks.
The zoning official said he communicated with Pazzaglia via email and expects the developer to complete the permit application on Monday.
According to zoning documents, the project includes 10 three-story buildings with six to 10 units each. Six of the units have three bedrooms, 20 are âextendedâ two-bedroom apartments and 40 are standard two-bedroom apartments. Each townhouse-style unit – with gable roof, clapboard siding, and shutters – sits atop a two-car garage.
Mulholland said Pazzaglia discussed a phased approach that would first take care of infrastructure, including drainage and the road system. Then the buildings could be constructed and rented one or two at a time while work continues on the rest of the project, according to Mulholland.
The property adjoins the south side of Interstate 95 and is located approximately one mile to the east side of the Rocky Neck Connector.
Pazzaglia, of Pazz & Construction LLC, purchased the 20-acre property in 2017 from owner Edward H. Dzwilewski for $ 450,000. A 2018 traffic study submitted as part of the application process shows that the project was initially designed as a mix of 250 apartment and condominium units. The following year, Pazzaglia requested and obtained the required purification capacity for 108 units. In 2020, the Inland Wetland Agency denied the request due to concerns about stormwater runoff and its potential impact on Bride Brook, Bride Lake, and one of the city‘s nearby drinking water aquifers.
The latest approved drawings for the development of 80 units show that Pazzaglia has repositioned the buildings and eliminated those that were in the highlands review area, thus avoiding the need to formally appear before the Inland Wetland Agency to obtain a allowed.
In November, the Inland Wetland Agency expanded its highland review area from 100 feet to 300 feet. The agency is responsible for regulating activities in the 300-foot area surrounding any watercourse or wetland, other than the ocean, to ensure that such activities will not negatively impact waterways. city ââsurface. The decision to expand the review area is being appealed to state Superior Court by developer Robert Blatt.
Gary Goeschel, city planning director and wetland enforcement officer, said this week that the 300-foot Upland Review Zone remains in effect “until the courts tell us otherwise. “. However, he said the development of Pazzaglia is not subject to the expanded requirement because the review area was still 100 feet away when Pazzaglia submitted its site plan request last August.
In October, the Planning Commission weighed in on a vote calling the project incompatible with the Conservation and Development Plan due to the lack of nearby public transport options and its distance from the two village centers of the city, Niantic and Flanders. He found the project to be on plan because there is easy access to Highway 156 and the Interstate 95 Rocky Neck connector, and because it adds to the affordable housing stock.
East Lyme’s most recent conservation and development plan, approved last year, specifies that affordable housing should be concentrated in areas convenient for multiple modes of transportation, municipal services and amenities like schools, recreation and shopping. The plan is intended to guide the city’s growth and to be updated every 10 years.
When the Zoning Commission cleared the project in December, it was part of a process outlined in state law that makes it easier for developers to build large numbers of apartments that they might otherwise not get l ‘approval.
Commonly referred to as â8-30gâ, the Affordable Housing Act is an incentive to promote equitable and diverse housing options in municipalities where less than 10% of the housing stock is considered affordable. It gives developers the right to sue the city if their plans are rejected, and shifts the burden of proof to the city to show that the risk to public health or safety outweighs the need for affordable housing.
Housing is considered affordable when those who live there do not spend more than 30% of their income on rent or mortgage payments.
According to 2020 data from the State Department of Housing, 6.27% of living options in East Lyme are considered affordable housing.
The plan submitted by Pazzaglia shows that 24 of the units will be rented as affordable housing, while the rest will be rented at market rates.
Pazzaglia’s Affordability Plan for the Development states that half of the apartments will go to tenants earning less than 60% of the region’s median income, while the other half is reserved for those earning less than 80%. This means that a family making less than $ 56,700 per year would pay $ 1,117 per month for a three-bedroom apartment which would typically cost $ 1,879.